"Buddy Bench:" More than a Place to Sit

Panama City Beach family donates bench to school

"Buddy Bench:" More than a place to sit - Making friends at school can be particularly tough for some children, but students at a Panama City Beach School will soon have a special place to go when they are feeling sad during recess.

"I love seeing the bench finally made," Fifth grader Carson Rubin said.

Carson and his family built the "Buddy Bench" and will donate it to Breakfast Point Academy on Friday.

The idea behind the bench is simple.

"All the kids that are going to be lonely are now going to be able to sit on this, and then they'll be feeling happy for themselves - so they can sit on this to make more friends," Carson explained.

But, the reason for it is personal.

There have been times when the fifth grader, who is on the autism spectrum, said he could have used the bench.

"In my past few years at Breakfast Point, I asked people to play with me, and they said, 'no,'" he explained.

"He had trouble making friends. He had trouble being included, and we looked up ways to correct that, and we found the 'Buddy Bench,'" Carson's mother Heidi said.

Heidi hopes it brings awareness to autism, as well as makes a big impact on all children who have a difficult time socializing.

"They're great. They're just like any other child. They want friends. They want, you know happiness," she said.  "They're just regular kids, and this is a great idea to hopefully create that understanding."

The school is recognizing National Autism Awareness month and remembering autism teacher Jason Mann, who passed away in 2013, with a ceremony on Friday. The Rubin's plan to will deliver the "Buddy Bench" to the campus in time for the event.

"I think it's going to change the world a little bit," Carson said.

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